Lavish love (yes it's still about love.)
I'll admit it freely, I'm loyal to the core.
Happy Thursday friends.
And when I say I'm loyal, I mean I go to the same Panera every chance I get, sit on the same side and order the same amazingly warm chocolate chip cookie every single time.
Shout out to the wrinkled ten-dollar bill sponsoring this jaunt out of the house.
And with a loyal persona comes the burning desire to know the truth and tell the truth.
Give me the raw, honest truth any day rather than the hidden secret things.
Maybe that's why this space is so helpful for me.
A space to say, "This is who God really is," "Who YOU really are," and even, "This is what parenting can look like."
A Space to say that life can be crazy hard and crazy good in the same sitting.
So in the spirit of all things honest and truth-filled I have had something rattling around my brain and heart for a few weeks now that needs de-bunked.
Let me preface by saying that I get it.
Valentine's Day brings out the haters.
Those who feel that if they put up a hard shell made of hurt or misunderstandings, the delicious thoughts of heart-shaped boxes of candy won't be able to penetrate it.
Some of the hurt-driven thoughts that I saw flash across facebook and the likes were things like: "Wife, don't expect your husband to be your best friend," or "Remember that help with the dishes can be just as romantic as flowers and candy."
And these posts make me wrinkle-up my nose and grit my teeth a bit for the unspoken thoughts behind them.
Equally confusing are the posts that swing to the other side of the spectrum and say things like, "If marriage is work, you are doing something wrong. Marriage should be lovely and easy."
I guess I'm here to bring these two sides back to the middle and find a bit of "happily ever after" in the process.
And honestly the thought of this challenge makes me giddy.
That could also be the chocolate chip cookie.
I remember in 10th grade when other girls were making wedding books for a home and family class I was just wondering what marriage would look like for me.
I loved a good "Anne of Green Gables" marathon weekend just like the next girl, but I didn't have a clue about wedding dress styles or even a good wedding color. I just figured that those things would work themselves out.
That's kinda how I approached high school study as well. (Oh this is making me laugh)
I remember as a college freshman staying up past hours to listen to the wedding and (shocker!) honey moon details of an older student who came to visit her friend in our dorm room one night.
Some things just cannot be "unheard" if you get what I mean. (my goodness I am cracking myself up)
This evening left me with so many more thoughts about marriage than I had ever had before.
Call me a hopeless romantic if you want, but I just thought things would all be covered in love when two people loved the Lord most of all.
And I'm here headed to 25 years later to say that little naive Deena had it right.
Sure there are times when their chewing makes you want to move counties.
When you secretly want to throw away every single pair of socks left on the bedroom floor until they come to the stark realization that they no longer have socks to wear.
There are times of growing when you feel so stretched by finances and child rearing that you think you just might break wide open.
But those times make waving at the bus corner all the sweeter.
Did I tell you that my husband began driving a public school bus?
Well he did.
I was nervous at first because I knew that this school and these kids would inevitably fall in love with him and want to gobble up all of his time.
What I didn't expect was to find myself falling in love with him too.
When I learned of a turn onto a street just four houses down, I thought it would be fun to stand and wave to my cute husband turned bus driver.
And the first day I did so a really weird feeling came up into my stomach as I stood on the sidewalk.
It was the very same feeling waiting for my date in front of the gym doors in the college hallway.
It was the very same feeling that came when the ring came out of nowhere in a drafty castle/hotel.
And it was the very same feeling that came when our pastor-friend closed the auditorium doors awaiting the wedding march.
Twenty some years later there it was.
Butterflies at the thought of seeing his smile cresting the hill with a bus of crazy little kids.
I could hear the familiar bus engine sound and then there he was, turning, stopping and waving while little hands and eyes peeked out from the windows.
It was so fun and a wee bit magical.
Sometimes this cute bus driver even tossed me watermelon blow pops.
I began orientating my day around 4 o'clock so that I could have dinner prep done, shoes on, and headed up to the corner by five past.
He began saving me my favorite candy and I would run to smile and wave.
Once I even used my boots to stop his name out in the sidewalk snow.
Each day the feeling came back.
And each day I reminded myself how wonderful that feeling felt.
I soon figured out that the one day a week I had to miss my corner spot I COULD catch my husband's bus route on my way home from piano lessons and meet him at his last stop for a wave and smile if I timed it just right.
Yes, we are THAT couple.
And that's what I'm saying.
Anyone can be that couple.
That couple that really are the best of friends amidst six kids and a disaster of a laundry room.
We've had knock-down drag outs over the dumbest things and held grudges until we literally forgot what we were angry about in the first place.
We're that couple too.
I highly recommend the former than the latter.
This year I had the unusual opportunity to surprise my older two with the company of my youngest son and hop on a plane over Valentine's.
This is not how I really wanted to celebrate Valentine's, but it was a once-in-a-long-while opportunity and my son and I were taking it.
The surprise was epic. I mean really epic. Like another blog post epic.
But waking up on Valentine's Day in another state after two action-packed days wasn't exactly my favorite.
I left a card and we promised each other to make plans when I arrived home but nothing prepared me for the early knock on my bedroom door and my son telling me that Dad had delivered something for me.
To say I was a "hot mess" after getting in bed crazy late - not even brushing my teeth - is an understatement, but in a foggy morning haze I wandered out to the front door where my son told me that Dad had left a special gift for me.
We both cautiously opened the door to find this sight:
(objects in vehicle were closer than they appear)
I mean, can you even?
While we spent so much time planning to surprise our oldest kids, this fella was planning a surprise of his own.
And instead of me waving to him he was right there a long way from home waving at me.
Let me answer the critic here a moment.
I do love help with the dishes and know that every day doesn't just fill with magical unicorns and balloons.
Marriage is dishpan hands and lost school dvd's.
But this is marriage too.
Extravagant, get-up-at-three-in-the-morning-and-rent-a-convertible days.
Days when they fly in and fly out the same day just so you can sink your toes in sand together only to meet each other the very next day at home again.
I'm pretty sure that this car rental cost more than his plane ticket but boy was it FUN. Not to mention that it did amazing "80's" things to my hair and I wasn't sad about it one bit.
When everyone else was deciding on dresses and color schemes and even wedding music I was deciding on this,
"It doesn't matter what color things are or who sings what, I want a marriage that's close."
I mean, "You know everything about me and still love me" close.
This kinda comes naturally as I can barely hide Christmas gifts. (remember that one fateful day Abi? Good thing you're not great at remembering things! )
I once heard someone say that "the language of love is lavishness."
I love that.
Don't you just love to really love the ones you love?
Isn't the way God loves each of us "lavish?"
Is not salvation the most grace-filled gift of love that we can hardly wrap our brains around?
And beyond that- this moment with a clear mind, a beating heart, isn't this moment such a lavish gift of love to us?
Doesn't it feel absolutely wonderful to sit in love?
THAT is what I wish for you my friends.
To live an Ephesians 3:19 kind of life.
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
Waking-up to a black convertible complete with graying adorable husband who knows when I have bad breath and refuse to cook dinner is beyond my knowledge.
Which immediately points me to a God who says, "No matter what I will never tire of your company and nothing you do or don't do will change how much I love you."
And I don't mind one bit not understanding and just sinking my toes deep in sand and just enjoying being completely loved.
Any relationship takes work, it's true, but the pay-off is so worth it.
So even on your worst day, don't join the nay-sayers friends.
Not even when the syrup covers the entire bottom of the refrigerator.
Determine to seek for closeness to the one who loved you before you even knew him, and let that love lead you to lavishly love those around you.
I'm cheering your marriage on from Panera.
Your marriage can be the most lovely spot on this earth if you decide to make it that way.
I firmly believe that God designed it to be just that.
A reflection of his great, enormous love for his bride the church.
Deep down, though imperfect, I want my kids to look at our marriage and want that same thing for themselves.
And a black convertible never hurts.